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St. Paul knocks off rival Sacred Heart from postseason picture (VIDEO, GALLERY)

By Keldy Ortiz
Nov. 9, 2013 at 5:09 a.m.

ABOVE: Sacred Heart's Tyler Kraaz, right, breaks several tackles before being taken down by St. Paul's Marco Ynclan, right, in the second quarter.

SHINER - T.J. Bell knew the season was all but over Friday night for Shiner St. Paul.

The sophomore running back knew their playoff chances were out of the picture for the Cardinals (2-6, 2-3). But playing against Lavaca County rival Hallettsville Sacred Heart (4-5, 2-3) was a game he wanted to play in.

Last season, the Cardinals lost to the Indians in the final game of the regular season - but not this time.

The Cardinals completed their season with a 25-16 victory over the Indians.

"We knew we were going to win from when we started practicing (Monday)," Bell said. "We kept them out of the playoffs."

St. Paul came into the season with only two seniors from last year's state championship team. Bell got hurt in the second game of the season and had to watch the Cardinals win a state title from the sidelines.

Friday night Bell, who had three touchdowns in the game, wanted to end the season with a win for the young team.

"It's definitely a learning experience," Bell said. "We learned how to stick together through tough times and we just got to keep plugging away."

Cardinals coach Jake Wachsmuth knew it would be a challenge to even replicate last season's team, but the Cardinals made strides to get better.

Freshman quarterback Austin Barton threw for 131 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinals limited the Indians' offense to 60 yards passing.

"These kids, though, over the last two weeks kept fighting. They kept hanging," Wachsmuth said. "I don't care what the records are. For the younger guys, it's a great way to look ahead."

The Cardinals may not have had much to play for Friday night, but the Indians sure did.

The loss for the Indians will keep them from the playoffs. Turning the ball over five times, two of which were interceptions and three for fumbles, didn't work in the Indians' favor.

In the fourth quarter, on a fourth and one, Bell obtained a first down for the Cardinals. Two plays later, Bell scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:06 left.

The second interception for the Indians came when Scott Stoner threw the ball on fourth and 13 from their 31.

"We turned it over," said Indians coach Pat Henke. "This game tonight kind of sums up the whole season for us. We never got on a roll. I don't think we ever recovered from losing that first district game."

Bell, who had 128 rushing yards off 26 carries believed their last game will give St. Paul momentum when the football season begins again next August.

"I think we're going to be really good," Bell said. "We weren't terrible. I think we're going to be really good in the future."

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